MITES! I had no idea!

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
Post Reply
i_carumba
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:27 pm
Location: Southern Saskatchewan, Canada

I did a nest check today and the houses are swarming with mites. They are everywhere and got all over me. I needed to wash my clothes and take a shower. Can the mites infect humans??

I a only a second year landlord. Did not notice many mites last year and did not plan on intervening at all. But this is terrible. How do the birds live with this many mites? Where do they come from? I assume they live on the adults year round?

I realize there will be posts I can read about mites but can someone quickly tell me the best way to deal with them?
Can I spray the houses down with something?

Attached is a photo of the outside of one of the houses.

Image
Attachments
mites.jpg
mites.jpg (352.03 KiB) Viewed 4636 times
C.C.Martins
Posts: 814
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- didnt know anything about martins, put up an all wrong house in 2016 and had two come by and inspect all the cavities. Left soon after not to return. Learned what i could on PMCA made adjustments and next year was successful.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021:
Home colony: mix natural gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satelite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 gourds: PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mino castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021:
PMCA member

Yep thats bad. It happens though if conditions are right.
Lots of ideas and personal feelings here on the forum but get some sevin dust quick. Lowes has it, home depot or a garden store. I use a turkey baster and dust around. You are going to want to dust them directly it will kill them. Dust everything but avoid direct contact with the chicks, turkey baster will allow you to get under the nest material. Do it a few times and watch for them.
They will bite you and they come in with the birds. Chicks wont live long in that.
I treat as soon as my birds arrive and select cavities
Let us know please.
Tom
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
Ed Svetich-WI
Posts: 798
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 10:05 pm
Location: Brooks, Wi (McGinnis Lake)
Martin Colony History: 24 Super and Excluder Gourds on two gourd racks, all SREH. Full occupancy. My philosophy is to maximize fledge % with existing cavities rather than adding gourds to grow colony, thus providing opportunities for new colony expansion. Fledge over 100 nestlings yearly from 24 gourds. Band nestlings in cooperation with state university. 2019 Adendum: Reduced colony size to 12 gourds to focus on more intensive management regimen.

Additionally, immediate nest replacements will quickly knock down the population as long as the nestlings are not near fledging.. You can then add Sevin(carbaryi) under the new nest material.

In future years, at least two nest replacements at day ten and another at day 20 or even more frequently can also implemented to prevent such infestations.

Good luck.

Ed
John Miller
Posts: 4771
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

When I get them on my hands I just pour rubbing alcohol over to rise them off. You can wipe down surfaces for a quick removal that way. It's unclear to me whether they bite humans. They don't affect me much, not causing red marks like chiggars, but of course wash off.
C.C.Martins
Posts: 814
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- didnt know anything about martins, put up an all wrong house in 2016 and had two come by and inspect all the cavities. Left soon after not to return. Learned what i could on PMCA made adjustments and next year was successful.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021:
Home colony: mix natural gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satelite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 gourds: PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mino castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021:
PMCA member

Thats good Ed, yes replace the nests! Gets to the heart of things.

As John suggests alcohol works perhaps use it on a towell and wipe the obveous group outside should work quickly. Gets them off you while you work. Treat after with sevin.

They irritate but that's about it, dont be too shy to go back and get them. If you have pet birds be careful of handling them after, wash well.
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
i_carumba
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:27 pm
Location: Southern Saskatchewan, Canada

It looks like Sevin (carbryl?) is not available in Canada.
Are there any other good options for dusting the nesting material?
flyin-lowe
Posts: 2935
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

I always go in a day before my first eggs are due to hatch. I lift the front edge of the nest up and put a small amount of Seven there. By the time it loses its strength it will be fledge time or later, if your nest gets wet it won’t last as long. I’ve never had mites doing it this way and I don’t have to worry about the babies getting any on them. One year I did my T14 and got distracted and didn’t do a gourd rack, I had to do nest changes on that one and still treated while I was at it.
2020 Currently 42 nest, 110 babies, 64 eggs left to hatch(6-22-20) HOSP count-8
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
2018- 15 pair last count 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional SY's stayed all summer but never paired/nested.
2016 1 pair fledged 4
2015 Visitors
2014 Visitors
2013 Moved 6 miles away, 1 pair fledged 2.
2012 30 pair fledged 100.
2011 12 pair (11 that nested), 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair, 21 eggs, 16 hatched, 14 fledged.
4th Gen Martin Fan
Posts: 1483
Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:19 pm
Location: TN/Collierville
Martin Colony History: I have been exposed to purple martin sounds in utero when my mother went out to get my father away from his martin colony.
I played around the martin colony every summer and watched as my father maintained his colony. In the late 50's until the 70's he did not notice European Starlings in south Texas.
When old enough, I helped maintain his colony. My primary task was eliminating English House Sparrows with a 1956 Benjamin 317 .177 air rifle.
When I settled into my own home, I started my first colony with an original Trio Castle and Trio Grandpa. When I moved again, I did not put up any martin houses. Frustration with European Starlings in the Southeast US was overwhelming.
Found PMCA Forum and learned about modern enlarged compartments and SREHs.
Inherited my father's last martin house, a Trio Grandma, modified it to modern specifications and have had good results since then.

This National Institute of Health article is fairly extensive - "Susceptibilities of northern fowl mite, Ornithonyssus sylviarum (Acarina: Macronyssidae), and chicken mite, Dermanyssus gallinae (Acarina: Dermanyssidae), to selected acaricides."

i_carumba,
From your investigation Sevin (carbaryl) is not available in Canada.
Is permethrin available? From the study it is effective but not as effective as carbaryl. After the alcohol treatment on the outside of the house, the nest change is the next best treatment if you want to reduce the infestation without any acaricides.
If you spray the floor with a light spritz of permethrin and then apply the nest material on top of the floor, then the exposure of the nestlings to the permethrin will be minimal.
Mark.
Firm believer in HOSP/EUST Control, Enlarged Compartments, SREHs, Pole Predator Guards, Owl/Hawk Guards, Mite/Parasite Control, Housing Insulation, and Vents for Compartment Cooling.
PMCA Member.
Conrad Baker
Posts: 325
Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2007 7:43 pm
Location: Paulina, Louisiana

i_carumba wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:38 pm
It looks like Sevin (carbryl?) is not available in Canada.
Are there any other good options for dusting the nesting material?
Check your local gardening shop for Hy-Yield garden, pet, and livestock dust. That's what I use. It contains Permethrin, but is designed to use on pets for fleas, ticks, and lice. You definitely have to treat at least twice, once when putting up the housing and another time when the birds are nest building. Do frequent nest checks, and if you see mites in the housing, do a nest change, and add more dust. Usually the birds won't stay with a mite infestation, and the babies will jump from the nest as soon as they are able.
i_carumba
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:27 pm
Location: Southern Saskatchewan, Canada

Turns out my wife had an old bottle of Sevin powder that was given to her years ago in the garden shed.
I put some into the nests and cleaned the exterior off using a spray bottle filled with hot water and some dish detergent.
I will check in a couple of days to see if it was effective.
How long should a treatment of Sevin last before needing to apply more?
Conrad Baker
Posts: 325
Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2007 7:43 pm
Location: Paulina, Louisiana

i_carumba wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:59 pm
Turns out my wife had an old bottle of Sevin powder that was given to her years ago in the garden shed.
I put some into the nests and cleaned the exterior off using a spray bottle filled with hot water and some dish detergent.
I will check in a couple of days to see if it was effective.
How long should a treatment of Sevin last before needing to apply more?
If kept in a cool dry area (not humid), it should have a shelf life of about two years. Once you apply it, if it gets wet it will lose it's effectiveness. I would try it if I were you, until you could get some fresh stuff. Can't hurt. Worse case scenario is it won't work. Shouldn't hurt anything. I would retreat in about 7 to 10 days In case any new mites arrive or hatch if eggs were laid in the nest area.
Spiderman
Posts: 778
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:19 am
Location: Gladewater, Texas

All great suggestions. You want to purchase 5% Sevin Dust. Buy a new container each year, it loses its effectiveness with age.

Yes, the mites will bite you. Think of 50 mosquitos biting you at the same time. I don't see how the adults live with them.

A 1/4 of a teaspoon will reduce the number of mites immediately.

Apply to the entrance to the compartments and the mites will be gone in 48 hours.

I treat the gourds before the Martins arrive and again when the Fledglings are about 16 days old. They are a problem but the solution is simple.
2008 - 33 PAIR - FLEDGED 96 YOUNG
2009 - 51 PAIR - FLEDGED 166 YOUNG
2010 - 45 PAIR - FLEDGED 146 YOUNG
2011 - 33 PAIR - 128 HATCHED, 97 FLEDGED
2012 - 37 PAIR - 119 HATCHED, 101 FLEDGED
i_carumba
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:27 pm
Location: Southern Saskatchewan, Canada

Thanks all for the advice. The old Sevin dust I found did the trick. It has been one week since I noticed the mite infestation and put Sevin in the nest boxes and todays nest checks showed zero mites. That stuff sure did the trick!
C.C.Martins
Posts: 814
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- didnt know anything about martins, put up an all wrong house in 2016 and had two come by and inspect all the cavities. Left soon after not to return. Learned what i could on PMCA made adjustments and next year was successful.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021:
Home colony: mix natural gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satelite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 gourds: PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mino castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021:
PMCA member

Very good! are the birds ok? They won't want to stay in that for long but your efforts will provide them bonus relief! Very nice, thanks for the update.
My personal belief in lots of things is look to the root of the problem...concerning mites I try to be proactive and snuff them as soon as the birds arrive. They bring them as well as the regular bird population inspecting our houses. During nest checks I look for mites, and apply sevin, doesn't take much.
Very good, Im happy for you...your birds will reap the benefits.
Tom
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
Post Reply